Islamic Philosophy – Al Farabi
Al Farabi (872-950), who was either Turkish or Persian, took the Aristotelian tradition of Alexandria, Egypt and expanded beyond. Maimonides, the most famous of medieval Jewish philosophers who lived in Islamic Spain, was much indebted to his work, and said that he could not understand Aristotle at all until he read Farabi’s commentaries on Aristotle. Farabi paid much attention to imagination, as this is central to science, philosophy and religious prophecy, seeing visions in the mind much like Shamans who go on vision quests. He argued that if you learn and think critically, you can have greater and greater visions of the cosmos, similar to the path of Jnana yoga in Indian Thought. Many Islamic philosophers argued, following Farabi, that philosophy and science are perfectly in accord with Islam to defend against charges of heresy, much as later European philosophers and scientists did. For Farabi, philosophy and science, as well as mathematics and logic, are participating with Being in the creation and envisioning of the cosmos.